Yes, it’s the 31st of October again, the one night of the year when skeletons and cadavers rise from the grave and go for drinks on Belmont Street. Our very own Medical Library skull Horace (pictured above, and borrowable on 3-hour loan by request at the Library’s issue desk) just wanted to wish everyone a happy Halloween. Perhaps you’ll see him out later on.
Of course, in the Medical Library basement we have journals dating all the way back to the 1830s. Many of the discoveries detailed in the pages of those early journals came from dubious sources; in those days if you wanted a skeleton you couldn’t just go to the library and borrow one. In fact, before the Anatomy Act of 1832 the only corpses permitted for medical research were those of prisoners condemned to death. This meant that there weren’t even nearly enough to go around, and so began the grisly but lucrative industry of body snatching, the practice of stealing the dead from graveyards. This culminated in the notorious case of Burke and Hare, who murdered 16 citizens of Edinburgh and sold the corpses of their victims to a local anatomy lecturer! But don’t worry; we can assure you that this is certainly not a policy currently employed by the University of Aberdeen Medical School. We have Horace, and that’s just fine.